What purchase am I contemplating now? A new laptop. That’s a big purchase and therefor comes with a lot of contemplating. It was about 16 months ago that I bought a new desktop (a Mac Mini) to replace my thirteen year old MacPro Tower. That ran me about two grand and has been money well spent so far. The laptop is a little trickier to decide on.

Right now I am writing this on my 2012 MacBook Pro. It’s working fine except that I can no longer update the operating system. I also can’t update my Adobe programs. That’s really not a huge problem since this is mostly a writing machine and only an art/graphics machine as a backup to my Mac Mini but the lack up being able to update it may be a problem soon.

Already TurboTax has warned me that this years version won’t run on this old laptop and the website of the school that I work at also warned my that my operating system is old enough to be considered a security risk. They must have updated something since I just got that message this week. Taxes and school based stuff are also things that I usually handle from this laptop. It’s not critical that I do that but it is convenient.

I’m getting an Apple laptop because that’s what I know and like. They last a long time too. Ten years later and I’m still using this one. They say Apple laptops are expensive, and they are, but I’ve also priced out Windows machines over the years and if you price one that’s made for art and graphics then it’s around the same price. That’s something a lot of people don’t realize.

I’ve thought about getting a used Mac laptop but I’m unsure if that’s the way to go. I was looking at them on eBay and I found a 2019 model that I liked for about a thousand dollars. That’s about half the price of a new one but it doesn’t have the latest M1 or M2 processor on it. It’s running an older Intel processor and that might limit how long it’s updatable.

If I base my purchase on the idea that the laptop is going to last me from eight to ten years then in doing the math a four year old computer for half the price isn’t that much of a bargain. If it lasts me another six years then how much money did I really save? It turns out that only saves me about $35 a year for six years. That doesn’t look like much of a bargain.

One of the annoying things about buying a current Apple laptop is that they are not upgradable. I can’t take it apart and add more RAM or a bigger hard drive. That used to be one of the things I did. I’d buy a new computer and then upgrade it over the years to make it better. Those days are in the past. Now you’ve got one chance to decide how powerful you want your computer and then it’s set. So choose wisely.

I am also deciding between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. It used to be that the Air was lighter and less powerful than the Pro but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. At least not on the thirteen inch model that I was looking at. These days they’re almost the same machine except the Air has a better camera and the Pro had the Touch Bar and a better battery. I care more about the camera so I’m leaning towards the Air.

The toughest part is deciding on how much RAM I want and how big a hard drive I should buy. The base model has eight GBs of RAM. If you want sixteen GBs then add $200 or if you want twenty four GBs then add $400. This is the only chance you’ll have to add more RAM. The more RAM you have the more programs you can have open and the snappier they will run. I might have to max out the RAM. That makes the price go from $1500 to $1900.

Then we have the hard drive. That’s a tough decision. First of all I have lots of hard drives hooked up to my Mac Mini. Being that I have all of my art and photos scanned I need a lot of space. I have eight external hard drives and about 20 TBs worth of room. Hard drives aren’t expensive these days so it’s good to have the room. They aren’t expensive unless you are buying a Mac.

The base model laptop comes with 512 GBs worth of space on it. That’s half a TB. If I want to upgrade to the 1 TB hard drive that’s another $200. If I want to upgrade to the 2 TB hard drive that’s another $400 on top of the $200. $600 for 1.5 TBs of space is a lot of money. The hard drives inside the laptop are Solid State HDs which are the most expensive of hard drive but still $600 is way above what I could buy one for on my own.

If I could upgrade the machine myself I could buy a 2 TB SSD for between $100 and $200 dollars. That’s what I did with this very laptop I’m writing this on. I actually got this one used from a friend years ago and it came with a 256 GB HD that I immediately upgraded to a 512 GB HD.

I’ve gotten by with only 512 GBs worth of space on this laptop for years but the key phrase is “Gotten by.” That means I have to think about what I put on it and how much space it takes up. I prefer to have so much space that I don’t have to think about that. I just bought another 4 TB external drive for $70 (refurbished) so that I don’t have to think about space as I dump video on it.

I think I might upgrade to just the 1 TB hard drive for $200. That will make the total price $2100. I think I can afford that eventually. I don’t have all the money saved yet so I’m not exactly sure when but I’m going to get the new laptop sometime in 2023. Hopefully early in 2023. I just have to save money and think about it some more.